Homeless shelters, day cares and jails grapple with pandemic, Virginia mulls SOL cancellation, and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Virginia rose to 67. Health officials said they’ve begun to observe community spread — cases where the point of transmission can’t be identified. People over 65 and other high-risk groups are now being asked to self-quarantine.—WVTF

• Gov. Ralph Northam issued an emergency health order prohibiting more than 10 patrons at a time in restaurants, fitness centers and theaters and gave local law enforcement and health officials the authority to enforce the ban. It made for a bleak St. Patrick’s Day. “I won’t lie, I’m a little bit worried,” said Paul Marsh, a bartender in Richmond. “After today, who’s going to pay us?”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• “Local jails are trying to stop the coronavirus from infecting their populations, but are preparing for the worst. That means releasing nonviolent offenders whose sentences are almost up and a slew of other measures designed to limit the movement and intake of inmates. ‘Now more than ever we have to decide who are we afraid of and who are we mad at,’ Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle said. ‘The ones that don’t represent a threat, we need to find an alternative means of incarceration for them.’”—The Virginian-Pilot

• Virginia wants to cancel SOL testing this year and “is working to ensure that the extended closure of schools does not affect seniors who are scheduled to graduate in June.”—The Washington Post

• Colleges and universities around the state are canceling their graduation ceremonies.—Virginia Business

• Day care operators so far have received no guidance from the state. Some have closed, many have remained open. “We still have parents who obviously have to work,” said one operator.—The Virginian-Pilot

• Homeless shelters say they’re determined to stay open, but are taking precautions, including the addition of handwashing statements and fever screening at the door.—The Roanoke Times

• State transportation officials authorized $11 million in additional funding for public transit agencies around the state. “As more social distancing is implemented, we recognize that reduced service and significant ridership losses lead to diminished revenue and more challenges ahead.”—Virginia Business

• Before closing to the public, Norfolk’s animal shelter found homes for all the pets in its care — 24 dogs, 23 cats and three guinea pigs.—The Virginian-Pilot

• The Outer Banks shut down to tourists, with police opening roadblocks to make sure only workers and residents were let onto the barrier island.—The Virginian-Pilot

• “A second member of former U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor’s staff was indicted Monday on election fraud charges stemming from a petition scandal that erupted during the ex-congressman’s 2018 re-election campaign.”—The Virginian-Pilot

• “The FBI is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the Feb. 1 fatal shooting of 3-year-old Sharmar Hill Jr. outside his Richmond home.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

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